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Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

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East German Rock
Einstürzende Neubauten
My bookgroup book for this month is the remarkably interesting Stasiland, which is about East Germany, and the secret police, the Stasi, who more or less controlled the place. When the protests started in 1989, they started outside the Stasi buildings.

Anyway, one of the particularly amusing characters in the book - which is non-fiction, by the way - is a chap who is described as the Mick Jagger of West Germany. The author of the books spends many a drunken evening with him in the local pub.

He delights in the name "Klaus Renft" of the Klaus Renft Combo. East Germany's answer to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and well just about everyone, there weren't a lot of rock bands on that side of the wall.

About half way through the book, Anna Funder quotes the lyrics for a song, written by the recently deceased song writer from the Combo. And... They rang a vague bell... I could swear I'd heard them somewhere, that I'd heard the song somewhere.

So, they have this wonderful invention now called the Internets, where you can find out all sorts of things.

I found out that the song was called "Singing the Blues in Red" (I believe) by a chap called Gerulf Pannach (gotta LOVE German names).

And in 1986, Gerulf starred in a semi-autobiographical film called Fatherland, which is about an East German musician escaping to the west. Which I must have seen somewhere - I'm guessing on SBS - anything up to twenty years ago. And somehow it must have struck a chord, because I remember liking the song, and also a rather great quote from the film (I think that's where its from):

Stalinism is not Socialism.
Capitalism is not Democracy

I am amused by the things by brain chooses to retain.

And, the internets being the internets, I of course found a copy of said movie on Ebay. It's in the post to me right now...

A little side note. "Fatherland" turns out to have been made by a rather famous British director called Ken Loach, quite famous for a film called "Kes" from the late sixties. He also made the grindingly depressing My Name Is Joe, which I must have seen in the cinemas in the late nineties.

Interesting side note: A major source of hard, western, currency for East Germany was selling the freedom of some of its citizens. West Germany would hand over something like forty thousand marks to the Easterners, and they'd had over someone who was probably trying to get out anyway. They were basically exporting their citizens! What a weird time.

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Really liked reading that book, especially after watching "The lives of others"...

I knew there was a film on the same subject...

It's REALLY good!

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